Does Fauquier County, VA Have capricious government regulation?
Johnson threatened to fine Boneta $5,000 per violation if she did not stop the alleged unlawful activities within 30 days. In doing so, Boneta's fellow farmers say, Johnson stepped far beyond her authority. They're supporting her appeal before the BZA because they rightly fear that left unchecked, this infringement on one farmer's freedom to make a living will spread to other agricultural enterprises like a dangerous pest.
The Virginia Right to Farm Act prohibits local authorities from treating agricultural activity as a "nuisance" -- which seems to be what's happening here, since Johnson was reportedly responding to complaints from nearby residents. Boneta already had a business license the county issued her in June 2011 that allowed her to operate a "retail farm shop" on her property. Her license application specifically noted her intention to sell handspun yarns, birdhouses, soaps and other handicrafts in addition to fresh vegetables, eggs, herbs and honey.On July 12, supervisors voted to limit the number of visitors allowed at food- and wine-tasting events to 25, and to limit such events to two per month, even though they were warned by the county attorney and Virginia Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Todd Haymore that such restrictions are illegal.
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